tv Anderson Cooper 360 CNN January 2, 2019 10:00pm-11:00pm PST
chris cuomo is off tonight. this this hour, "360", the 2012 republican presidential candidate and the gauntlet that he laid down to the president current. mitt romney is the incoming freshman senator now from utah. he heralded his arrival with an critical op-ed in the where wash most in the "washington post" saying president trump, i'm quoting, conduct over the past two years, particularly his actions this month, is evidence that the president has not risen to the mantle of the office. here's what the president said about it in his cabinet meeting today. >> i wish mitt could be more of a team player, you know? i'm surprised he did it this quickly. he was expecting something. i'm surprised he did it this quickly. >> a short time later senator elect romney spoke with the lead's jake tapper who wanted to know how far he would take any opposition to the sitting president because there's a lot to talk about later. we are first playing an extended portion of the interview. it's about three minutes. take a look. >> is there any chance you might emerge as an all ternltive to
alternative to president trump and run against him in the primaries in 2020? >> no, you may have heard i ran before. i've had that experience and, by the way, i acknowledge that president was successful and i was not. he did something i couldn't do. he won. and i recognize that and appreciate that. but, no, i'm not running again. and we'll see whether someone else does in a republican primary or not. time will tell. >> you said in march of 2016 -- because there was a whole big thing in 2012, kids out there might not remember this, but when you ran for president, donald trump wanted to endorse you, you wanted him to endorse you and there was an event in las vegas. and you accepted his endorsement, and then in march 2016 you wrote in the tweet, if trump had said four years ago the things he says about the klan, muslims, disabled, iz would not have accepted his endorsement. now, some people point out, okay, he hadn't said those things, but he was the nation's leading birther pushing the lie
that barack obama, the first african-american president, was born in africa, again, a lie. and you accepted his endorsement even though that was his political claim to fame. was that a mistake? >> you know, i'm sure i've made a lot of mistakes -- >> is that one of them? >> i'll let the people make the assessment of which things were mistakes or not. but when the president of the united states, frankly of either party, were to say i'm endorsing your candidacy, i think you say thank you very much. but i pointed out i think pretty consistently throughout the years the places where i disagreed with candidate donald trump and now president trump and i'll continue to do so. >> if there is a moment if you want the mueller protection bill to be voted on, if you want sanctions against russia passed -- >> you look at items you think are right as opposed to symbolic or punitive to the president. there's no reason to poke anybody, republican or democrat, in the eye to make a statement. we're in washington, after all, to try to make a difference for the american people. and just doing things symbolically that will hurt someone that euro posed to doesn't make any sense in my opinion.
i can express my viewpoints. but if they're places that the president wants one thing and i think that's wrong, i'll vote with my conscience, not with his. >> we're in the middle of a government shutdown right now. president trump is i insisting on $5.6 billion for a border wall, democrats are refusing to give it to him. tomorrow democrats in the house are going to offer a clean government funding bill, $1.3 billion for border security, not for the wall. the shutdown is now in the 12th day. nearly a million federal workers going without pay. do you want the house bill to go to the floor of the senate so you can vote on it? what's the path out of this? >> well, there is the substance and there is the symbolism. clearly if the president were able to get a $5 billion check to build the wall, that would look like a huge win for republicans and a big loss for democrats. and it's very hard to get democrats to vote for something like that. so there has to be some kind of deal done where the democrats get something and the republicans get something. that's the way things are done in washington, at least that's what i have read. >> mr. romney goes to
washington. it's just the latest in the complicated recent history he and the president share. more on that from gary tug man. >> it's my honor, real honor and privilege to endorse mitt romney. >> reporter: donald trump back in 2012, pledging his support for then presidential candidate mitt romney, who also had praise for trump. >> being in donald trump's magnificent hotel and having his endorsement is a delight. >> reporter: but the alliance did not last long. after romney lost the election to president barack obama, trump blamed romney for not using him more during the campaign. and said romney never connected with the people. and though romney bashing continued shall as trump considered his own presidential rung. >> the republicans cannot be so stupid as to give him a second crack, because honestly, he choked. >> when donald trump entered the race, romney was quick to criticize trump's comments on mexicans. illegal immigration, john mccain, and his unreleased tax returns.
trump fired right back, calling romney on twitter, one of the dumbest and worst candidates in the history of republican politics. >> dishonesty is donald trump's hallmark. >> reporter: in march 2016, romney unleashed his strongest words yet on trump's candidacy. >> donald trump is a phony, a fraud. his promises are as worthless as a degree from trump university. [ cheers and applause ] >> he's playing the members of the american public for suckers. he gets a a free ride to the white house and all we get is a lousy hat. >> reporter: romney said publicly he'd vote for senator ted cruz in the primary. and later revealed he didn't vote for donald trump in the general election either. but romney did offer an olive branch, tweeting best wishes to trump after the election. that same month as trump began shaping his cabinet, romney was spotted at trump's golf club in bedminster, new jersey. >> do you foresee a cabinet position for the governor, mr. president-elect? >> reporter: and later seen at a private dinner with trump and
his incoming chief of staff reince priebus in new york city. >> these discussions with him have been enlightening and interesting, and engaging. i've enjoyed them very, very much. it's not easy when i know that myself. he did something i tried to do and was unsuccessful in accomplishing. he won the general election. >> reporter: trump was considering romney for secretary of state but later gave that job to rex tillerson. in february 2018, romney announced he would run for the open utah senate seat. despite their history, president trump again endorsed romney, who tweeted back a thank you. and true to their history, the same thaw in the relationship would not last for long. gary tuckman, cnn, houston. >> well, as we said, plenty to talk about the. joining us is former romney campaign spokesman kevin madden, and ryan lizza, chief correspondent for esq. magazine. you worked for then presidential
candidate romney. are you surprised he chose to take such a public prehe preemptive stand against the president before he takes a seat in the senate? >> i'm not surprised what was in the actual op-ed. when i was reading parts of it, it felt like some of it was from a stump speech in 2018 campaign and 2012 campaign, and then the parts about -- that were attacking the president's character seemed to be lifted almost from the 2016 speech that he gave to the hinckley school out in utah. but i was surprised by the timing here on the eve of being sworn in, that he would begin to define his senate tenure through the lens of his opposition to president trump. given that he spent the last six months of this -- of the campaign running in utah talking about -- to yu tau ans why he should be their ambassador to washington, why he should be their senator. so i think when you want -- try to focus on local issues, try not to define his candidacy and his senate tenure through opposition to trump and then on day one sort of started this entire news cycle dedicate today that.
>> why do it now? you said the timing surprises you. >> i was -- i was -- i had that question mark as well when i first read the op-ed. then when i watched the jake tapper interview, i think he laid it out pretty clearly and succinctly. starting this new job he wanted people to know exactly where he stands. given there will be flash points on policy, and i think just on stylistic approach that the president has, where he's going to differ with him and he's going to need to criticize them and to sort of frame it on his terms from the very beginning. >> ryan, does that make sense to you? i understand what kevin is saying. he could have also waited until there was an issue in which he had a particular disagreement with and then made a public stand. why do you think he did it? >> kevin laid it out very well. he did a complete 180 here. if you followed his campaign out in utah, all of us in washington and on the he east coast, we were seeing romney as the anti-trump candidate calling him the guy who is going to come to washington and lead the
never-trump resistance. in utah, that is not how romney was running his campaign. he was resisting that label to a certain extent. he was talking about local utah issues. day before he gets sworn in in washington, he goes to the washington post, does an interview on cnn, he is now defining himself in the capital as the leader of what's left of the never-trump movement. and so why? why is he making a big splashy debut with this as his identity? i think, one, he believes it. he has watched the last two years and been disappointed and he thinks that character does matter. and moral leadership matters from the white house and he has big disagreements on the recent moves in the middle east that trump has made. but i think there's one other thing going on here, is he's placing a bet that either with the mueller investigation or the house investigations coming from democrats, that trump may be not the leader of the republican
party in the near to medium term. if that happens, i think he wants to set himself up as the person who takes advantage of that fall. i think he's thinking about impeachment. i think he's thinking about possible resignation, all those kind of scenarios that we've talked about as these investigations have swirled around the white house. >> kevin, what about that? it's kind of -- you could say it's a win/win for romney. i mean, what has he got to lose? it's not as if, you know, he's standing -- he seems to be standing by his principles or his believes about the president's character. he's got, you know, he's an elected senator. he's got six years in office. and he's got all the money he will every need to have. so why not just speak his mind? and if it turns out the president implodes somehow or doesn't seek reelection, he's set himself up as an independent voice. >> yeah, i would disagree that he is that calculating.
and that any of this is geared toward somehow faking over as the tichler head of the republican party or another run if donald trump's political fortunates to change. >> aren't all politicians that calculating? >> well, look, from my experience working for mitt romney, waking up every day for 6 1/2 years trying to help get him elected, the answer is no, he's not as calculating. and he is driven by the principles that he does argue about in the piece. but here is what i think we have to look for next. look, he gave the speech in 2016, and it really wasn't followed up with a whole lot of effort to really stop trump in a structural way by either endorsing one of the other candidates or getting his very well funded finance nickell to shift money towards one of the other candidates and stop trump in a place like new hampshire. he didn't do that. he gave a speech and it didn't really alter the trajectory of the race or change anything. the question now, is this just
an op-ed that lies on its own, or is there another move by governor romney, now senator romney? it's going to be hard for me to change that. but does he start to work with other senators in a way that, you know, builds a legislative coalitions to try and get the white house to chart a different course on policy or to chart a different course on the president's approach? that will be the real next test for, for senator romney. >> ryan, do you see him taking another step or seeing how this plays out and then -- >> he's kind of the only game in town now in washington. all of the, you know, well-known anti-trump republicans are -- have either retired, were defeated or in the case of john mccain, passed away. i mean, the last two years, that entire fax in the republican party has really just -- >> who is he going to get to sit with in the cafeteria? >> exactly. that's not like he's beloved by democrats. he's going to find it's a lonely place to be.
as bob corker and jeff flake have. and all of us in the media, every time trump does something that seems to violate one of those principles that he laid out in that op-ed, we're going to go to him and ask him for his comment. so he has crowned himself the leader of the never-trump republicans and he's not going to be able to take that crown away. >> ryan, that's a good point. that was one of the things that i think stuck out in the op-ed where he said, i'm not going to, you know, respond to every single tweet or every single statement. fat chance, he's going to have to respond to every single tweet and every single statement. >> maybe he'll be eating lunch with the teachers in the teachers cafeteria. thanks very much. coming up, the shutdown and standoff on the wall the president first said mexico would pay for and mexico has already paid for, now says is already built. keeping him honest on that. later my conversation with the twin brother of an american now being held on espionage charges with no explanation in russia. ♪
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there is, as you know, standoff between the president, democrats and congress over a deal to end the government shutdown. the president saying he can't accept the democrats' offer to reopen the government because he and i'm quoting here, would look foolish if i did that. the sticking point is money for a wall or steel slats or whatever you want to call it that the president wants on the border with mexico, which is odd, because keeping him honest, funding wasn't supposed to be a problem. >> i promise, we will build the wall. and who is going to pay for the wall? >> mexico. >> who is going to pay for the wall? >> mexico. >> who? >> mexico. >> it will be a great wall, mexico is going to pay for the wall. >> mexico is going to pay for the wall. >> mexico will pay for the wall. >> all right. so, mexico isn't paying that way. now as the president explains most recently on twitter, mexico is really paying this way, and i'm quoting now.
mexico is paying for the wall through the new u.s. mca trade deal, much of the wall has already been fully renovated or built. we have done a lot of work. $5.6 billion that house has approved is very little in comparison to the benefits of national security, quick pay back. keeping him honest, it's kind of like saying you don't have to pay your taxes because you had a good day at the race track or something random like that. the budget process does not work like that. congress has to earmark funding and authorize spending. in any case, what's all the money needed for if, as the president says, much of the wall has already been fully renovated or built. keeping him honest to the extent you believe the kind of wall the president wants is necessary, the money would be needed because none of what the president said there is actually true. in 2017, when the president first erroneously claimed construction was well underway on a new border wall, we sent our gary tuchman to the border and here's what he found. >> reporter: the budget director declared, quote, this stuff is going up now because the president wants to make this
country safe. but keeping them honest, this stuff has nothing to do with president trump. >> that was may of 2017. we have been following it since then, and to this day, nothing really has changed. no new construction. some could begin shortly. none yet. and certainly nothing like the president has claimed, much of the wall is fully renovated or built. what the president said is just not true and the same goes or this claim that he'll take responsibility for the shutdown just a few weeks ago. >> i am proud to shutdown the government for border security, chuck, because the people of this country don't want criminals and people that have lots of problems and drugs pouring into our country. so i will take the mantle. i will be the one to shut it down. i'm not going to blame you. the last time you shut it down it didn't work. i will take the mantle of shutting down. >> sounds like a promise. or the larger promise of the shutdown, we have folks to talk about it real clear editor a.b. stoddard, former obama advisor van jones, trump campaign aide
michael caputo and david penn -- lappin who served as administration spokesman at the department of homeland security. david, is john kelly right, did the administration leave the concept of a solid concrete wall early on? because the president certainly doesn't believe that they did. >> i think it's true and it's backed up by what secretary then kelly at the time as homeland security talked about with members of congress and in testimony. he very clearly early on said it's not a wall, it's not going to be from sea to shining sea. it's more a barrier. and importantly, it's augmented by people and technology. technology is certainly not bells and whistles as the president has described it. that's what the professionals down on the border believe is necessary and that's what secretary kelly talked about early in his tenure. >> michael, the idea that mexico is already paying for the wall because of the nafta replacement, that's just not true.
it's not how trade works, correct? >> well, i don't know how you expected mexico to pay for it. if you wanted them to stack crisp $100 bills on a pallet like obama did for iran, that was not going to happen. i don't think they were going to do a bank check or wire transfer. you know, i always knew the president's refrain line from the campaign was going to come back to haunt him. i just didn't know how much the media was going to obsess over it. in the end it's one hand in one pocket one handout of the other pocket. this is going to get paid for. and you can define it however you want. >> van, to the notion that the president thinks he'll look foolish if he accepts the offer from the democrats, is he right, especially given how deep a line in the sand he seems to have dug in all this? >> well, i think he looks foolish either way. you have a president who is inflicting real pain on real people who work for our government, to try to solve a phony crisis at the border.
we have actually fewer people trying to cross -- at the same time, i don't think we should overlook the fact that the people who work fork america's government aren't getting rich doing those jobs in the first place. yet people now are trying to figure out how they're going to put gas in their car. they're having to choose between are they going to pay their heat bill, are they going to pay for lunch for their kids at school in the next couple of days. these are real people who have real pain. i think you look foolish eager way. i think you'd be a lot better off as president of the united states respecting the workers for america's government, taking the pain away from them and solving this problem some other way. >> a.b., who has the most, if any incentive, to budge here? >> well, what's interesting, anderson, is if you watch the president, what he's tweeting and what he's saying before cameras like today, he really does not see the downside to this. he has -- it's been reported over the christmas holidays that he tells his advisors around him that all he needs to do is keep
fighting. it's the fight he has to show to his base, so it's no problem. and he does not see the downside to this yet. it's clear that the political vein of a shutdown is not on his radar screen. i think what's going to happen in the weeks to come, as we see the house led by democrats keep passing these bills and sending them over to the senate where majority leader mitch mcconnell is going to say we can't put these bills even on the senate floor because the president won't sign them, is that you're going to see senate republicans who are up for election in 2020 like cory gardener from colorado, a state clinton won, and susan collins in maine, a state clinton won, as well as other states where democrats are going to begin to play. like iowa, north carolina, georgia, and texas where john cornyn, the second republican leader who is stepping down, is up in texas in a state that beto o'rourke lost by 2.6%. in a tough, what could be a tough year for trump, these people are going to start freaking out if they can't vote to reopen the government. the president will not look like
a fool if he accepts the offer that the democrats are going to pass, which is let's solve all of these bills, pay for all of these departments to get back in operation, except for d.h.s. that is the easy path and you put off that negotiation for later. if he sticks his head in the sand for another week and they focus all on these workers and their hardships, he's going to continue like the polls showed to pay the political price. >> michael, do you think that's a deal the president should do, get these other things -- >> no, i don't. i don't think that the senator is going to freak out about an election that's going to be 20 months away or 18 months away. i do think it's going to bother them. i think that they truly believe in government much more than the president does, and i believe the president's base who has never left him, out here in fly-over country, we just don't feel the government shutdown as much. i think the president is going to stand tall. he needs to. a lot of people who supported the president in 2016 see this
as a test of his mettle. i think if the democrats wanted to open the government again, they would have done more than interrupt secretary nielsen and chuck schumer explaining to her and make the case the president wants to make. instead they just democrat demagogued. they really don't want to keep the government open. >> homeland security secretary nielsen when she was briefing congressional leadership today, which michael is just referring to, she said this is not a status quo situation. we are in a crisis situation. status quo funding is not enough. is she right? are we in a crisis situation on the border? >> i don't believe so. and if you look at historical trends, it's certainly not the case. years ago, numbers of people coming across the border were in the millions. the numbers today are up a little bit from what they were at the beginning of the administration. those were very historic lows at that point in the first six to eight months of the administration. if there is a crisis at the
border, i think that it's a manufactured one. i don't think that the individuals coming from central america, men, women and children escaping poverty and violence, provide any kind of a national security threat to the united states. so i don't see this as a crisis, especially, again, as you look at it historically. >> van, the bottom line of all this, i guess should be, there are approximately 800,000 federal workers facing economic uncertainty right now while the leaders of the country are trying to score political points off each other. >> yeah. and it's disgusting. i think for everybody -- you go to the tsa. people are working there. again, these are not people who have big savings accounts. these are not people who can call their mom and say, hey, look, give me a couple months -- money for my rent. these are people who are literally making it paycheck to paycheck every single month. and in the middle of christmas, where people were hoping to be able to do something for their
families, to have that snatched away because politicians want to play silly games is terrible. and this is an act of weakness from the president. the president is having to play these games with his base. he's having to throw this raw meat to his base because he is in a weak position. fox news pushed him around. rush limbaugh pushed him around. he's terrified because his numbers are going down every place else. so he's clinging to his base and he's hurting ordinary people to play political games and it's unfortunate. >> i have to take a break. david le pen, i think i angled your name initially. i apologize. thanks very much, david, for being with us. everybody as well. everyone else, stick around. while the president deals with the shutdown standoff, he also has plenty of other problems on his plate. staffing the growing list of key roles, secretary of defense, chief of staff. secretary of interior. we're going to look at why it's hard to find people to work in what he calls a hot white house. we'll take that one up next. at fidelity, we make sure you have a clear plan to cover the essentials in retirement, as well as all the things you want to do.
today was john kelly's official last day as chief of staff. mick mulvaney is stepping in temporarily for weeks. the president said everyone is clamoring to get the job for the u.s. ambassador to the u.n. >> we have a lot of people that want the job, but we have a lot of people that want the position. we have a lot of people that want the job and there are a lot of great people. >> right now the president has four cabinet position s to fill. defense secretary, interior secretary, attorney general, and epa administrator along with chief of staff mulvaney and the ambassador to the u.n., that's six top positions right now. back with us is a.b. stoddard, van jones and michael caputo. a.b., many times, you know, when it's two years into an administration, there is turnover. is this an unusual amount of
acting cabinet-level officials? >> i don't think that we're in good shape with, with half or whatever the number is, six acting cabinet secretary positions. most particularly because the attorney general and the secretary of defense are very critical positions, and they shouldn't be in flux. that said, yes, the president's rate of turnover is something -- his administration has beat the record and he's up at 64%. just like i said about the shutdown, i don't see that this bothers president trump at all. he always believes the next best person is coming and he doesn't believe that chaos is produced in any kind of destructive way. by kicking people out or having them flee in the way that we've seen. we've never seen anything like it, but i just don't think it's of a big concern to him. i can tell you there is concern among senate republicans about
matt whitaker who is the acting attorney general, and that's why they want to move on as quickly as they can with the confirmation of william barr and they have set as of this afternoon confirmation hearings for -- for him. but this idea of mattis going, of the president trashing mattis today the way he did in front of all his current cabinet sitting there and watching the way he treats someone like james mattis, the idea that this position remains open and they have an acting mr. shanahan is acting without any military government experience is of great concern to republicans. of course, they don't, you know, come like mitt romney does to the mics and talk about it, but that is the one they're most worried about. >> michael, does trashing someone like mattis, someone -- basically the president has trashed a lot of people who used to work for him at even very high levels. does that make it -- is that part of the problem, making it hard to get people to want to do it? >> i don't think so.
i think mattis is -- first of all, the president does bad mouth folks now and then, mostly when they bad mouth him first. that's what general mattis did. general mattis was briefing hillary clinton before he was working for donald trump. and when he came into the administration, he made sure the that not one trump supporters went to work for the pentagon. then he fought the president tooth and nail on withdrawal from the middle east. that was always going to dissolve in some way, shape or form. i think we're going to get a great secretary of defense. we're going to have a strong attorney general in william barr. i think heather nauert is a great choice for the u.n. ambassador. i tell you what, i want mick mulvaney to stay. he's kind of like the leon panetta of the republican party. he's a utility infielder, a real strong player at every position. i think he'll do a great job under permanent status as chief of staff.
>> van, i'll ask you the same question i asked michael. does the president bad mouthing people who were his -- in his cabinet when they leave for a variety of reasons, does that hurt or does that make other people not want to put themselves in that gauntlet? >> yes. the answer is yes. i just think it's remarkable. michael and i are friends and i respect him a great deal. but sometimes i feel like i'm in this 1984 novel where you're supposed to kind of unthink certain things. now mattis is just like hillary clinton boob and who cares about him. i can remember you sticking up for mattis and others in the trump administration -- >> i love mattis. >> you just threw him under the bus. >> i'm saying he's not, he's not saint francis of acee assisi. hoog he's a mull military
general. and we'll find another one. i wish you would join this administration. the first things you did in the step back were incredible. >> i appreciate that. i like the job i have now. i have no intention of joining that administration or any other. having been part of the obama administration, you have to work hard. late nights, you don't get paid a lot in those jobs. if you think -- if you don't do perfectly, not only are you not going to have the job, you're going to have the president of the united states trashing you. that's not good for morale. it's not good to recruit people into that building. and you need good people there. and i also want to say we talked about the importance of having somebody good at the department of justice and other places. having somebody good at the epa is also important. keeping america's water from having poison in it and the air from being polluted, all these important jobs are not helped in the recruitment when you have these kind of things -- >> i have to leave it there. van johns, michael cavuto, a.b. starred ardern, thank you. >> american entering the isn't it true year in a moscow jail. accused of spying. russia's surprise move is
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tonight an american is being held by russia in an arrest surrounded by mystery. 48-year-old paul whelan of michigan faces espionage charges. russia is explaining why. isn't explaining why. he's a corporate security executive for an auto parts supplier and former marine reservist. he his family says he was there for a wedding when he was detained five days ago. u.s. ambassador jon huntsman
went to see whelan in a moscow jail. described to cnn as an unusual move so soon. the arrest comes two weeks after the guilty plea in this country after maria butina, the alleged russian spy, former national security officials wonder if it's kremlin retaliation. i spoke earlier with paul whelan's twin brother david. david, what did ambassador huntsman tell your family today? >> he spoke with my brother, paul's second brother, and explained that the embassy staff had an opportunity to see paul, and that paul seemed to be healthy under the circumstances, healthy and good condition. and the embassy staff were able to take some requests from paul, some list of things he needed, and just do a general checkup and share with us information about now how we could proceed to the next steps of helping him. >> are you clear right now as to what exactly the u.s. government state department is doing or can
do to try to free your brother? >> i think we have a general sense of what they're able to do. certainly we realize they're not there to provide him with legal representation, so that's a step that we're going to be getting started for him to help to identify lawyers and so that he can select one and start to deal with the legal issues that he faces in moscow. but it also allows us to do things like provide him with money or other things so he can have resources in the jail. >> to the notion that is being put forward by russia that paul was on a, quote, spy mission when he was arrested, i'm wondering what your response to that is. i mean, to your knowledge, is your brother -- has he ever been a spy? >> no, i don't believe paul is a spy. i don't believe that there are charges that would support him being a spy. >> he spent a lot of time in russia, i understand, over the years. vacations. do you know what it was about russia that he liked, that he enjoyed?
>> well, i don't think it was solely russia. paul has traveled a lot for personal reasons and for business. and i think russia was one of the many locations that he went to. he has friends that he's gathered over the years on social media, some of them are russian, so he's visited them while he's been in russia. >> when was the last time you spoke to paul, and how did you actually find out he'd been detained? >> it's probably been a month or so, i think before american thanksgiving. and i've heard from my family they were concerned he was missing because he hadn't checked in from a wedding he was attending in moscow. they were expecting they might see pictures or he would text them to find out about some activities that the family was experiencing in michigan. there was a vet appointment for his favorite dog, and so that was really the first time we had a sense he was missing. that was confirmed on the sunday that he had a missing persons report filed by his friend in moscow, an american who is also a former marine.
and then it was monday morning when i did some internet sleuthing to find out more. that we actually learned that he'd been detained. >> and that's how you found out, you found out through the internet? >> right, yeah. we didn't have any idea, so as anybody would, you would be concerned that something had happened to your family member who had disappeared and was out of contact. so i got up to do searches to see if there was news about an american who had been killed or been in a car accident or something else happened, been mugged in moscow, and those searches led me to news wires that were reporting that the russian ministry press release that paul whelan had been detained as an alleged spy. >> i can't imagine how frightening and distressing this is for you and your family. we are seeing overseas in russia. if you could speak to your brother, is there anything you would want to say to him?
>> i would just tell him to be patient, to be strong, as i know he can be in these sorts of situations. and to know that we are doing everything we can, both to help him in russia with the situation he has right there, and also to look to the u.s. government's resources to see if we can get him to come back home. >> david, we wish you the best and we'll continue to follow this. thank you. >> thank you very much. >> well, ahead tonight, more on the breaking news and the president saying he'd look, quote, foolish if he signed onto the democrats' plan to end the shutdown. there are all kinds much consequence on the lingering government shutdown on top of federal workers without pay, condition s are deteriorating in national parks. things are so bad joshua tree can't stay open. we'll have the latest from there next. place, the xfinity xfi gateway.
again, our breaking news, president trump telling lawmakers he can't accept the democrats' offer to reopen the government because he says it, quote, would look foolish if i did that. it's not just federal employees impacted by the partial government shutdown now in day 12. federal facilities like our national parks are being crippled by all kinds of health and safety hazards. the popular campgrounds at california's joshua tree national park were forced to close today with toilets at near capacity. nick watt is there. >> here's some trash bags that we can have. do you guys need gloves? >> reporter: a small army of volunteers keeping joshua tree as clean as they can. >> we're operating now, but i'm working 11 to 13 hours a day running what i do for a living, running rock climbing trips, and maintaining the park.
yeah, what we're doing right now is not sustainable. >> reporter: the tollbooths are closed. no one is collecting $30 a car. the park service right now limping along with absolutely essential stuff only. this park is still open, but the deadlock in d.c. does mean that campgrounds are now closing in campgrounds are now closing in california. all the campgrounds here at joshua tree closing down, and the issue, those toilet vaults. the volunteers can keep the toilets clean, but not to be too gross about it, those vault toilets are reaching capacity. other parts of this park closing because of, quote, illegal activity. people apparently off-roading, damaging the environment, bringing in dogs. other remote parts now officially off limits because of safety. get into trouble out here, and there might not be anyone around to save you. over in texas, joshua schneider broke his leg christmas eve when
he fell at big bend. his buddy and another family had to carry him out. >> when we were on the phone with the park, they told us because of the government shutdown, there's limited rescue services available and that they're going to send one park ranger. you know, you'd think they'd come with a stretcher or something. >> reporter: nope, not right now. meanwhile, in washington, d.c., the smithsonian kept its 19 museums and the national zoo open over the holidays, but today they finally shuttered up. all now closed. at yosemite, the nation's third busiest national park, they're also having huge problems with garbage and toilets filled to capacity. the nesbitt family from texas was planning this vacation to joshua tree for months. now they're cutting it short. >> well, it's impacted ours for fun, but it's impacted people's livelihoods and people's jobs. >> nick watt joins us now. nick, if the shutdown drags on, is there a chance the park will have to close completely. >> reporter: there is. that used to be the way of things, but last year the
national park service cooked up a new kind of contingency plan, and that is they basically furlough about 85% of their employees. and then they try and keep the parks open just with a skeleton staff. i'll read you a little extract. they say staffing will be held to the amount needed for the protection of life, property, and public health and safety. so if they deem that public safety, health is at risk, then they may close down the park. also, listen, those volunteers who are working their day jobs and cleaning the toilets here, they say they don't know how much longer they can do it. so, anderson, if this drags on a lot longer, they could just close the whole place down. back to you. >> thanks very much. coming up, did you happen to notice what was on the table today, literally, while the president sat with his cabinet and spoke with reporters? the curious case of the fake movie poster, next on the ridiculist.
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time now for the ridiculist, and there's plenty to talk about from when the president was on camera today with his cabinet, or the acting cabinet and repeatedly, repetitively rambled a bunch of misdirection, half truths and no truths about everything from the nonexistent wall to the erroneous history of russia. but right now i just want to
focus on something else that was on the table. literally on the table in front of him. never mentioned, never discussed. a printed poster-sized "game of thrones" ripoff featuring a picture of the president and the phrase "sanctions are coming." now, the question is, what was it doing there? reuters reporter jeff mason was in the room. >> i don't know why that was there. i saw it when we were in there with the press pool and took a picture of it and sent it out on twitter. but i haven't spoken to anyone at the white house about why it was there or where that came from. but it did sort of underscore the reality tv sense of being in that room, being in -- i think we were in there for about an hour and 45 minutes listening to the president, listening to cabinet officials and seeing that poster. >> here's what we know. back in november, the president tweeted the picture referring to economic sanctions on iran. so that's what he tweeted. now hbo apparently was not amused at the time, saying it
would prefer its trademark not be misappropriated for political purposes. but the fact that the president tweeted that three months ago, it doesn't even begin to explain at all what it was doing at today's cabinet meeting or why it had been printed out to movie poster size in the first place. i mean the president did say he was home alone in the white house over the holidays. maybe he used the poster to scare away would be burglars like in the movie home alone with the michael jordan cutout? possible. or maybe the president had been playing an incredibly easy version of where's waldo or elf on the shelf featuring himself and accidently left the poster on the table, which really can't be it because that would be psychotic. not to mention if you're going to make a fake movie poster, you should at least come up with a fake movie title. "sanctions are coming"? really? it's not even a play on the title. it's a ripoff of the catch phrase. >> winter is coming. >> winter's coming.
>> winter is coming. >> and winter is coming! >> winter is coming. >> winter is coming. >> winter is coming for him. >> winter is coming. >> and winter is coming. >> now, i'm no expert on fake movie posters, but i do love my "game of thrones", and i have been compared to a white walker, which i must admit i do sort of see a resemblance. but if you're going to rip off a tv show, should this white house be riffing off a show in which john snow leads a caravan of refugees through a border wall? i think that particular irony might be lost on the president. call me crazy, but it might be possible he might get a really big kick out of seeing his picture on a poster, and he wanted everyone else to see it without ever explaining why it was there. he just liked it maybe. i know it sounds absurd, but let's not forget this is the same person who had framed copies of "time" magazine with him on the cover hanging up in at least five of his clubs. the cover dated march 1st, 2009. they were fake. they were completely made up. he had somebody do that, and then he framed them. he wasn't on the cover of "time" magazine at all in 2009. we may never know why that poster was printed out or why it was just sitting on the table in
that cabinet meeting today. but we do know winter isn't just coming. it's already here on the ridiculist. the news continues. i want to turn things over now to don lemon and "cnn tonight." don? this is "cnn tonight." i'm don lemon. happy new year, everyone. we're just hours away from the democrats' takeover of the house. with the clock ticking till the start of day 13 of the partial government shutdown, hours away from a whole new reality for this president, when nancy pelosi officially takes the reins. but the speaker to be is wasting no time flexing her muscles over president trump's pet project, telling nbc she'll give, quote, nothing for the wall. and saying this after congressional leaders met with the president about the shutdown behind closed doors in the white house situation room. >> we're asking the president to open up government.